Canadian agricultural exporters seek ambitious outcome at WTO negotiations

    GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - Canada's agricultural and agri-food
exporters are seeking an ambitious outcome in the World Trade Organization's
(WTO's) six-year-long agricultural negotiations. Their goal: to see a WTO
agreement that gives Canadian agricultural producers fairer access to markets
around the globe and systematically reduces trade barriers.
    "Canadian agriculture as a whole cannot afford to be excluded from these
negotiations - our agricultural products, commodities and interests need to be
included in whatever agreements may be reached," said Mike Leslie, CEO of the
Alberta Barley Commission. "Our largest barley customers, the beef and pork
industries, need improved access to be competitive! We estimate increased
access to market could generate billions of dollars of additional export value
each year for Canadian agricultural producers."
    Leslie is at this week's WTO trade talks in Geneva with Keith Lancastle,
the executive director of Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA); Darcy
Davis, of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association; Martin Rice, the executive
director of Canadian Pork Council; and representatives of the Alberta
Government. The organizations are committed to seeing the Canadian government
and Canadian agricultural exporters "at the table" during this week's
negotiations with other WTO member countries.
    "Canada's support for exports is critical to the over 90 per cent of
producers that depend on the sales of export commodities," said CAFTA's
Lancastle. "The negotiations are entering a critical stage and securing
improved access to key export markets is essential to Canada's ongoing
    Launched originally in 2001, the WTO's Doha Round of on-again, off-again
trade talks have been anxiously anticipated by agricultural producers in
developing and developed nations alike.
    "Like other agricultural exporters across the country, we're struggling
with the impact of a high Canadian dollar and uneven trade practices," said
Leslie. "A WTO agreement would help open up new markets for Canadian
agricultural and agri-food producers."
    In Ottawa, Richard Phillips, executive director of the Grain Growers of
Canada, said "for too long Canadian grain and oilseed producers have been
penalized by other countries with unfair tariffs and market barriers. It is
imperative that our need for fairer trade rules be reflected in the WTO's
final agreement."
    Export and trade distorting subsidies cost Canadian grain and oilseed
producers well over $2 billion annually. Tariffs and tariff-quotas on Canadian
cattle and beef alone cost that sector over $1 billion annually, and the
Canadian hog and pork sector an additional $800 million. In Canadian malting,
tariffs and tariff-quotas applied in Asia cost the malt sector about $25
million annually.

For further information:

For further information: Mike Leslie, CEO, Alberta Barley Commission,
Phone: 011 41 79 477 9683 (in Geneva); Keith Lancastle, Executive Director,
Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance, Phone: (613) 791-5352 (in Geneva); Richard
Phillips, Executive Director, Grain Growers of Canada, Phone: (613) 875-1795
(in Ottawa), Please note: Geneva is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time
and eight hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time

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Alberta Barley Commission

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